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Great New Restaurants: What’s That Mean?
The phrases, ingredients, and techniques you'll need to navigate the new restaurant scene By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published October 26, 2010
The Vietnamese subs called banh mi are popping up at wine bars, Wolfgang Puck restaurants, and Whole Foods stores. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Bánh mì.  A Vietnamese sub, born of the cultural collision that came of French colonialism in Vietnam. A humble meal that sells for less than $3 at Falls Church delis, it has been turning up on the menus of some of the area’s hottest restaurants. At the Source’s lounge in downtown DC, a miniature rendition is the best kind of homage: serious and irresistible, and with not a trace of slumming.

Bar chefs. Also known as “mixologists.” We love knocking back their new-generation cocktails with house-made tonics, crystal-clear ice cubes, and arcane flavorings. Derek Brown and Tom Brown (the Passenger), Todd Thrasher (Restaurant Eve, PX), Gina Chersevani (PS 7’s), and Adam Bernbach (Proof, Estadio) are among the leaders of the area’s craft-cocktail movement, and their clever experiments have helped energize the food scene. But what’s wrong with being known as a bartender?

Bev Eggleston.
The patron saint of the area’s local-food movement—name-checked by dozens of chefs on menus across the country and generally regarded with the awe reserved for a Nobel laureate. His EcoFriendly Foods is a major supplier of eggs, poultry, and pigs. Think of him as the anti–Sysco truck.

Cask ale. Hop-heads go into rapture at the mere mention of this beer, which is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and typically pulled from its cask container by hand. The brewer’s art has no purer expression.

Cobia. Every few years, a new white fish crops up on menus, and this variety from tropical and subtropical waters currently stars in the role previously played by Chilean sea bass and mahi mahi. It’s the fish of choice—thick and inoffensively flavored—for those who’d prefer to eat meat. Chefs tend to prepare cobia the way they would a pork loin, accenting it with heavy sauces or lots of starch.

Cochon 555. A pig roast elevated to high art; some would say overkill. This road show—wherein five chefs, five winemakers, and five roasted heirloom pigs are brought together in an orgy of eating and Iron Chef–style judging—made a stop in DC this spring. (Bourbon Steak’s David Varley went on to win the national competition.) Tickets are among the most in-demand items of the food year. Makes the Old Ebbitt Grill’s Oyster Riot look like a church social.

Confit. Strictly speaking, a piece of meat cooked and stored in its own fat. So how to explain a profusion of dishes with lemon, tomato, potato, and onion confit, among others? When asked, chefs typically claim a liberal interpretation, saying they cook these ingredients in their own juices. But we rarely encounter a non-meat confit that’s worthy of the term.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 10/26/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles